"we are not only creating art. we are creating identity, self-esteem, and possibility."

This is a pretty good recent blog post on BackStage.com by actress Ann Hu on the significant and rapidly declining number of roles for Asian actors on Broadway, on Off-Broadway, and in theater in general: Asian Invisible?

Only 1.6% of roles on Broadway were filled by Asian American actors and only 18 principal contracts were given to Asian performers have been given to Asian performers... in the last five years. What's up with that?

Ms. Hu offers her theory on why things are so rough for the Asian American theater actor, but also why it's so important that our stories get told:
How we (as Asians) get to be viewed in life starts on the screen, on the stage, and bleeds into how others view us; which in turn, recycles into how we see ourselves, and more significantly into how young children of diversity, looking up to us, see themselves.

We are not only creating art. We are creating identity, self-esteem, and possibility.

In regards to a recurring role on a new sit-com, two acquaintance friends asked me, "Is it a stereotypical Asian character you're playing?" Hmm...?

I found it odd that that was the first question out of their mouths, as opposed to, "What's your character's name? What's it like shooting in front of a live audience? What's it like being on set?"

The truth is, a natural humanistic portrayal of the Asian-American subculture in this country has yet to make a permanent footprint in the parade of mainstream behavior.

We are not just the other white meat. And there's no use in attempting to blend ourselves in as that.
It's a good, insightful piece. It does wade into the familiar waters of issues that come up in discussions of Asian American representation in arts and media. But coming from someone working it out in the trenches, it also reads a lot like a rally cry. And we could use an occasional kick in the butt. (Thanks, Rich.)

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